From the humongous size of the whale to the tiny body of the bee hummingbird, mother nature never stops surprising us! The number of animal species on the plants is enormous, and each of them has its peculiar characteristics. But today, we are not here to talk about a specific species but to list the largest animals in the world!
In the past, gigantic animals were not uncommon. Dinosaurs have been carelessly roaming on our planet for about 165 million years till they were brought to extinction by a massive meteorite. But these enormous reptiles were not the only humongous creatures to inhabit the Earth. Several colossal mammals also used to live on our planet. Some examples include the famous mammoth, the less known ground sloth, and the giant beaver.
Megafauna is a term used to refer to large animals both extinct and still living among us. Although most of these animals are now extinct, some of them are still alive. Here are the nine largest animals in the world!
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1. Blue whale
Whales are famously known for being the largest animal on Earth. These gigantic creatures have been fascinating humans for years and have been present in literature for centuries. Whales can be found in ancient books such as the Bible and more recent classics such as Moby Dick.
There are plenty of different species of whales, but scientists agree that the blue whale is the largest animal in the world. These animals have a length of up to 30 meters and can weigh from 130,000 to 150,000 kg. Unfortunately, the blue whale is currently endangered, with less than 25,000 species left in the wild.
Blue whales can be seen in small groups, but they usually tend to be lonely or in pairs. They live 80 to 90 years and swim in most oceans, except for the Arctic. These animals are among the loudest creatures in the world, and their sounds can be heard by other whales 1500 km away!
During the summer, blue whales live in polar waters to migrate towards the equator in the winter months. You can spot them in many countries, such as the Maldives, Iceland, and California. Apart from blue whales, there are plenty of other humongous species worth mentioning. For instance, the humpback whale, with a length of up to 16 meters, and the North Atlantic right whale, weighing up to 70,000 kg.
2. Giant squid
Another impressive marine animal is the giant squid, the largest invertebrate on Earth. According to recent measurements, females can reach a length of up to 13 meters while males are slightly shorter, with a length of ten meters.
Unfortunately, it’s exceptionally tough to spot this species. Only in 2004 did a Japanese team succeed in taking the first photographs of the giant squid in its natural habitat. Before this, studies were based on carcasses found in all of the world’s oceans. Consequently, we don’t have much data on this animal. However, scholars agree that it spans a large range of depth and can be found from 300 to 1,000 meters below sea level.
Giant squids have the biggest eyes in the whole natural kingdom, with a diameter of 25 centimeters. This allows them to see at the lightless depth of the oceans, where most animals would not be able to detect objects. These animals don’t live for long, and their lifespan is thought to be only five years, during which they reproduce only once. Despite this, they are not threatened by extinction as, living in the deep oceans, human activities have almost no impact on their lives.
3. African savanna elephant
Found in 23 African countries, from Zimbabwe to Tanzania and Kenya, the African savanna elephant is the largest terrestrial animal on our planet. It weighs from four to seven tons and can be four meters in height. According to the WWF, the males are independent and only join other specimens to reproduce. A family unit is composed of approximately ten female elephants and their calves. These units often join others to form a big clan of up to 100 animals.
African savanna elephants feed on grass as well as fruits and a variety of plants found in their habitat. Unfortunately, these animals are currently threatened by extinction as their numbers decreased by 60% in the last 50 years.
The giraffe is one of the largest animals in the world and, without a doubt, the tallest. An adult male giraffe is around 5 meters tall and weighs almost 2,000 kg. Female specimens are way lighter and rarely exceed 1,200 kg.
There are four different species of giraffe, all of which live in Africa: northern giraffe, southern giraffe, masai giraffe, and reticulated giraffe. They can be found in many countries such as Kenya, Niger, Uganda, Namibia, Cameroon, Chad, and more. Giraffes move in small groups of approximately six individuals and walk long distances every day to find enough food to sustain their diet. This consists of 34 kg of food per day, mostly acacia leaves.
Giraffes are currently not endangered but categorized as vulnerable. This means that there is a high chance that they will become an endangered species in the next few years.
5. Whale shark
The whale shark is the largest fish in the world. Despite its intimidating name and size, this animal is very docile and can be approached safely. Whale sharks can be 12 meters long and weigh up to 40 tons! They have a long life and, according to scientists, they live from 60 to 100 years.
Whale sharks prefer warm waters with temperatures ranging from 20℃ to 25℃ and can be found in tropical seas. If you’re interested in spotting them in the wild, you can head towards the west coast of Australia, Mexico, and the Philippines. Whale sharks are solitary animals even though they may form big groups of up to 400 individuals when mating.
They feed on small fish, squids, and plankton using a unique technique. They first open their giant maws and get in as much water as possible. They then close their 3,000 tiny teeth and spit the salty water out, trapping inside fish and other small marine creatures. Unlike other sharks, whale sharks don’t need to be particularly agile to catch food, and for this reason, they are pretty slow and rarely exceed four km/h.
Ostriches are the largest bird on Earth. They can be more than 2 meters tall and weigh up to 140 kg. Not surprisingly, given their weight, they cannot fly. Ostriches can be found in captivity all over the world, but you will have to head towards Africa to see wild ones. They used to live all over Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, but today they can only be found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
You can easily distinguish males and females by their colors. Males are white and black to attract the other sex, while females are light brown. Ostriches are omnivorous and eat both veggies and meat. They usually prefer plants from which they get all their intake of water but also feed on locusts, snakes, rodents, and lizards.
Contrary to popular belief, these animals do not bury their heads in the sand but lie down if threatened. When ostriches attack, they use their legs to kick their opponent. These can be extremely strong and can kill a lion with a simple kick. Their muscular legs also allow ostriches to run exceedingly fast, keeping a speed of 65 km/h for long periods.
7. Elephant seal
Elephant seals can reach 6 meters in length and weigh up to 4.5 tons! Their name does not derive from their size but by the trunklike snouts that characterize them. Despite their clumsy and docile appearance, don’t get too close if you see one of them. They can be extraordinarily fast, and their bites will not only hurt you but may also cause severe infections.
There are two species of elephant seals: northern elephant seals and southern elephant seals. The former live in California and Baja California, while the latter can be found in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters. Southern elephant seals are larger and during the foraging months spend about 90% of their time underwater looking for fish. They need to reemerge every 20 to 30 minutes to catch some air, an operation that takes 2 to 3 minutes. Elephant seals are powerful swimmers and can dive longer than any other seal.
Northern elephant seals are a great example of conservation success. In the 19th century, they were heavily hunted for their blubber and were declared extinct in 1884. Luckily the population increased in the last few years. Today there are 150,000 individuals on Earth, and their species is no longer considered endangered.
8. White rhinoceros
White rhinoceroses are the second largest terrestrial animal after elephants. They have a length of up to four meters, and their height ranges from 1.7 to 1.9 meters. White rhinos are impressively heavy and can reach a mass of 2,300 kg. Despite their weight, these animals are incredibly fast and can run at a speed of 64 km/h.
White rhinos are herbivorous and can eat plants that are toxic to all other animals. They can go four to five days without water and can be extremely dangerous. They have poor sight and for this reason, they tend to charge first and only later check whether there was a real danger. Their sense of smell and hearing are well developed, helping them understand the world surrounding them. White rhinos don’t like the heat and will spend most of the time during the day hiding in the shadows. For this reason, they are most active early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and during the evening.
There are two known species of white rhinos: the southern white rhino and the northern white rhino. South Africa has the most abundant population of Southern white rhinos in the world, with 11,000 specimens. The Northern white rhino is not as lucky and it is almost certainly extinct. There are only two specimens left alive, both of which are female. The last male died in 2018.
9. White sturgeon
The white sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in the world. It can be found in the Eastern Pacific swimming between the gulf of Alaska and Monterey, in California. They can reach six meters in length and live for more than 100 years!
White sturgeons are born in the freshwater and can spend their whole life in this habitat. However, some move to the sea and live close to the coast. In the early spring, white sturgeons move into large rivers to spawn. Women can release up to 3 million eggs that stick to the river bottom as soon as they come in contact with it.
Unlike most fish, their bodies aren’t covered in scales but in bony plates called scutes. Just like sharks, their skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone. In 1994, the US Fish and Wildlife Service declared the white sturgeon as endangered, but luckily, today this specimen is no longer at risk of extinction.
What is the largest sea animal?
The blue whale is the largest sea animal. These creatures have a length of 30 meters and can weigh up to 150,000 kg!
What is the largest land animal in the world?
The largest land animal is the African savanna elephant. They are way tinier than whales but still impressively huge for terrestrial standards. African savanna elephants can be four meters in height and weigh up to seven tons!
What is the largest reptile in the world?
The saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile on Earth. These animals have a length of up to 5 meters and can weigh up to 500 kg! Saltwater crocodiles live in eastern India, Southeast Asia, and Northern Australia.